Nature’s Murmur

Timescale Chauvinism is the idea that people exhibit bias in favor of their normal pace of existence. Daniel Dennett, in his book “Kinds of Minds”, proposes this concept to explain that people tend to disregard intelligence at a slower speed. Take a twining plant, for example. If you had ever grown a kidney bean when you were young, you will recall how its stem coiled along a wooden stick to support itself. It happens over several days and nights, so you wouldn’t have realized how smartly the beans behaved, but look! Don’t underestimate your tiny bean just because it is not the magic one from “Jack and The Beanstalk.” It uses the stick as a tool to grow vertically, receive more sunlight, and nourish itself better through photosynthesis! Why do we misjudge the intelligence of leisurely Mother Nature when we praise the human ancestors who first used fire as a tool to cook food and gain more nutrition? At least, this was what Professor Frank Durgin lectured during his cognitive science class. 

I believe we are not the only beings who are biased in this way, however. Have you never heard the trees and shrubs whispering how nonsensically humans rush all the time? Oh c’mon! You live on an arboretum campus! Just pull out your earphones while you run to your 8:30 a.m. class in the morning. Through the soughing winds, you’ll be able to hear nature’s murmur: 

“The constant ringing from the Bell Tower is driving me crazy! I don’t need an alarm to tell me that it’s time to sprout the seeds. I can just pay attention to the subtle change of the sunlight and slowly help the seeds get ready to pop their heads out! Nothing goes wrong if one is slower than the others. What’s really important is that they are all happy and healthy doing what they’re doing. Poor humans. They are always downtrodden with schedules, deadlines, and the idea of being ‘on time.’ Were they to relax and flow along with the winds, the stars, and the clouds, people wouldn’t need to be so stressed to push themselves so hard, for nature always moves in a way that is benevolent to us all.”

⏤ Newly seeded turfs at Parrish Beach

“Whew, do they not know how to turn off the light, or what? The lights of this monolithic building are always turned on. I wonder when these people will rest after studying late past midnight every single day. And what’s the point of stuffing a bunch of information in their brains so hurriedly when they don’t even know how to make use of that knowledge? I’m sure that I’ve heard someone droning on about Huckel’s Rule of Aromaticity behind that door, and I have for sure seen a group of people coming out of it lamenting about their chemistry problem sets! Yet no one has ever brought their upset friend to breathe in my stress-relieving aromatic chemicals, linalool, and linalyl acetate. No wonder — their olfactory sense will hardly function properly after binge-drinking caffeine. Rather than sitting in the classroom to cross out the learning objectives listed in the syllabus, they should immerse themselves in nature and learn from its gradual transformation.”

⏤ Lavender at the Science Center Garden

“Humans are throwing out everything too fast, too much. Look at those t-shirts in the trash bin! These are the ones they bought when I was bathing my fresh green leaves in the summer sun. I clearly remember because someone was bragging about how little they cost despite their trendy flare. And now that I’ve started dyeing my leaves in red with anthocyanins and carotenoids, they are dumping those once-favored shirts out. I haven’t even started shedding my leaves! Thinking of the smoke that will billow out when those non-biodegradable wastes get burned at the incinerator, I am already worried about my acorn quality next fall. I feel sorry for the people living in Chester, who have to live with the waste of faceless strangers. Absolutely disrespectful, even to their fellow species! Humans are Earth’s parasites that devour goods at a speed faster than a black hole. One day, their foolishness will make them collapse like a supernova explosion.”

⏤ Oak Tree near Willets Hall

“Oh my days! Can you believe it! No one! Not a single person passing by gave a slightest glance at me. After eight weeks of careful preparation, trying to grow elegant light yellow petals in actinomorphic symmetry, adjusting the subtle gradation of color from the center to the edge, and yet this is how I’m treated by these ill-mannered beings, never able to look up from their phones, always busy going somewhere without looking around! Do they even know why they rush around? How will they appreciate anything if they’re so incapable of observing their very surroundings? I bet they’ll never learn how to enjoy their journey on Earth with that impetuousness.”

⏤ Elina Rose from the Rose Garden

Do you hear them better now? Nature is biased, but in a way that exposes the truth about our actions rather than blinding us to our foolishness as our own human timescale chauvinism does. It seems that we have much to learn from the “lowly” intelligence of our nature. 

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